What Do You Do With A Talking Monkey?
This is another short story with a history...
What Do You Do With A Talking Monkey? was written when I was in the sixth grade. I paraphrased the title from a story by another author.
My teacher hated it, but the other kids loved it.
I have no idea why.
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All rights Reserved
Bob wasn't a smart man. He never was a smart man and spent most of his
thirty-five years doing odd jobs like hauling away trash and general
cleanup duties. That was until he'd found work five years ago at the
Army base in Fort Leonard Wood. Daddy, God rest his soul, told him
something about that. "Go on, boy! You git you a gubbermint job and
you's set fer life!"
So Bob had gone to the base, applied, and after what seemed like a
hundred interviews, he had a civilian worker ID badge. Robert Daley,
Janitorial Services is what it said. The preacher read it to him one
time. For the first time in his life, Bob had steady work and made good
Bob was a little nervous sometimes, because he knew the Army must have
some A-bombs around the base someplace, but he never saw one. Then
again, Bob thought he wouldn't know an A-bomb if it jumped up and bit
him on the nose.
One of his duties was to empty the trash and clean the floors in a room
with a bunch of cages with animals in them. There were mice and rats
and monkeys and even a few small dogs and cats. Usually, the animals
stayed quiet, but sometimes a monkey or dog would start making a ruckus
and the others would all join in. Usually, Bob just ignored them and
finished his chores.
Most times, Bob worked the night shift, and he liked that just fine.
There weren't many folks around to talk to, and Bob knew that was OK.
He knew he wasn't smart, and he got shy around people. Bob graduated
from the second grade and made it more than halfway in the third before
he just couldn't learn any more. The other kids would call him 'dummy'
and 'stupid', and then Bob had to wallop them. His last day at school,
he'd already thumped the heads of three boys and was getting after a
fourth one, Tommy Hill. The principal, Mr. Hallorin, drug him off to
the office by his ear and made Daddy come get him. Daddy gave him a
good licking over that.
At night, Bob would see the MPs, and they were all nice to him. Once in
a while, the man who ran the place with all the animals, Dr. Reyes,
would work late, and he always gave Bob a cup of coffee and a powdered
donut. One time, Bob got to watch some men working on a tank, doing
something to the motor, and he watched as they drove it around the
base. That tank could sure go places his Chevy truck wouldn't go!
Mostly, Bob spent his nights alone and, in the morning, he went back to
the old home place. Bob was the only child and now that Mamma and Daddy
were gone, he had no one there. Sometimes, on Sunday, Preacher Jack
would drop by with his wife and little girl and would sit a spell with
Bob. They'd try to get Bob to come to Sunday school and church, but Bob
didn't care to go. All the talk about damnation and the fires in hell
got Bob spooked and he'd have trouble sleeping. The preacher would pray
a little with him. Then Bob would be alone again.
The only people Bob could call friends were Dave and Pete down at the
gas station and mini-mart. It used to be a Texaco with a real garage,
and Dave used to hire kids to pump gas and wash windows. Now the pumps
were all self-service and the garage was where the beer coolers were.
Dave and his boy Pete always treated Bob OK. They'd liked his Daddy,
too, and sometimes, when times were tough, Dave even gave Daddy credit
to get gas.
Bob would stop by on his way to work in the evening and he'd get some
Mountain Dew, a bag of chips, one of them sandwiches all wrapped in
plastic, and a pack of Twinkies for his lunch, and then he'd talk with
Dave and Pete for a while.
As Bob pulled up to the main gate at the base, the MP waved him through
and shouted his hello. Bob tooted his horn and waved back as he headed
for the parking lot. He got his lunch bucket together and went inside
to get to work.
Tonight, he was supposed to strip and wax the floors in some of the
offices and hallways and in the room with the animals. He got the power
buffer out of the storage cage and got his supplies on his cart and
headed off to do his job.
He finished stripping the hallway and the animal room and was almost
done with the office next door when the MPs on patrol came by and said
hello. Bob told them to mind the hall cause it might have some wet
spots. They waved and Bob finished the office. He changed the pad on
the buffer and waxed the hallway and went into animal room and started
working there when a monkey started raising hell. Pretty soon, he had
all the other monkeys screaming and the dogs barking. They were so loud
tonight that he decided to let them calm down a tad and went next door
to finish the office first.
When he was done, the monkeys were quiet, so he went in and started
waxing. The monkeys stayed quiet this time, just watching him as he
worked, and soon he was all done. Bob wrapped up the cord on the buffer
when he heard a voice.
Bob looked around, but there was nobody there. He went back to winding up the cord.
"Bob, come here!"
He looked around again and didn't see anybody, and then it hit him. The
two MPs, Ben and Jerry, would play tricks on him at night sometimes
because Bob would get spooked easy. "OK you two! I know it's y'all
pullin' my leg! Come on outta there!"
There was no answer. Bob looked in the hall and around the room, but he
didn't see anybody. He was getting spooked as he went back to the
"Bob, get your ass over here!"
When Bob looked toward the cages where the voice came from, he saw one
of the monkeys looking at him and waving for him to come closer.
Wide-eyed and more than a little scared, Bob pointed at himself. The
monkey seemed to sigh. "Yeah! You, Bob! Come here cause I got something
I need to tell you." Bob walked slowly to the cage. "Come on, Bob,
don't be afraid. I won't hurt you."
Bob blinked. "You're a dad gum talkin' monkey!"
The monkey rolled his eyes. "No, Bob, I'm John Kennedy. When that
cross-dressing bastard J. Edgar Hoover had me shot in Dallas, they put
my brain in this monkey."
Bob took a deep breath. He never believed that story about the magic
bullet. The preacher said there ain't no magic. "No kiddin'?"
"Yeah, and that's the Amazing Bat Boy in the next cage over." The next cage held a pair of white rats. "Jesus you're dumb, Bob."
"I ain't no dummy!"
"I know Bob, and I'm sorry, but sometimes being in this cage all the time makes me grumpy."
Bob nodded his head. "That's OK, monkey. I know how it is bein' all cooped up."
"Yeah, whatever. Listen Bob, we like you. The last guy used to come in
here and piss on us. You just do your job and leave us alone, and we
like that. So, here's a little tip for you. Talk to Reyes and he can
make you smart, just like we are."
One of the rats that the monkey said were the Amazing Bat Boys rattled the cage. "Sure, Bob. You'd be even smarter than we are."
"Stop shuckin' me, now! Y'all talk lots better than me now, so how would I ever be as smart as y'all?"
The monkey laughed. "How you talk has nothing to do with how smart you
are. Look at the people who run for President. They all speak well and
sound nice, but the whole bunch of them together are dumber than a bag
Bob's eyes narrowed. "Hey! Y'all ain't no Republicans, are ya?"
The rat giggled. "Bob, we can't vote."
The monkey shot a glare at the rat. "Bob, just talk to Reyes. He can help you! He can make you like us!"
Just then, Ben and Jerry came walking by again. Ben stuck his head in
the door. "Best stay away from those critters. If they get loose, Reyes
will have a fit!"
The monkey whispered. "Remember, Bob, remember..."
Bob stood and looked at Ben. "I was just getting done." He gathered up
his supplies and headed off to the next section to strip and wax.
* * * *
Over the next week, Bob tried but the monkey and the Bat Boy rats
wouldn't talk to him again. He started to tell Dave about it, but
decided Dave would just think he was touched in the head or something.
No way was Bob going to talk to Preacher Jack about it! Talking to
animals was probably a sin, and he'd just tell Bob he was going to burn
Friday night, while Bob parked his truck at work, he saw Dr. Reyes' car
in the lot. Bob made sure to make the animal room his first stop to
Dr. Reyes was there, writing something on his computer machine. "Evening, Bob. It's been a while. Have some coffee and a donut?"
Bob smiled his best smile. "Thanks, doc." He poured a cup of coffee and
grabbed a powdered donut. The man never had anything but powdered
"By the way, the floor in here looks great. Nice job."
"Thanks, doc. I like my job, but I wish I was smarter so I could do something else."
"All a man can ask for is to have a job he can do with the skills God
gave him." He turned from his TV thing and said, "I wish sometimes I
was as good at my job as you are at yours."
Bob smiled and decided that the doc was in a good mood. "What you do in here with these critters, doc?"
Reyes thought for a moment. "That's a little complicated. The short story is I'm trying to make the animals smarter."
Bob noticed the monkey and the Bat Boy rat watched them. "Wow! That's neat, Doc! Could you make me smart like them?"
Reyes turned and looked at the cages. The Rat Boy ran to his wheel and
started running for all he was worth. The monkey picked at something on
his butt. Reyes turned back to look at him. "I don't know. Maybe we
could, but there's a lot involved."
"All kinds of papers need to be signed and then we'd give you a bunch of shots."
"I don't like them shots, doc. They hurt."
Reyes smiled. "Yeah, sometimes."
Bob had a fit of insight. "But wouldn't making me smart be a good
thing, doc? I'd be like them critters and I could talk good and know
stuff. I bet y'all would learn as much as me, too."
Reyes mumbled something about needing human subjects. "Bob, if you'd really like to do this, it would help me in my work."
"I sure would, doc!"
Reyes studied him for a moment. "Alright. You come see me at nine
Monday morning and we'll talk. Don't tell anyone about this, though."
"I sure will, doc, and you can set your watch by me!"
Bob went on with his duties and went home, never saying a word to anybody.
* * * *
Bob kept his mouth shut all weekend. Even when him and Pete went to the Daugherty bowling alley, he didn't say nothing.
When Preacher Jack came by Sunday, it was hard. It's hard to lie to a
preacher and Bob felt like not telling him was the same as lying.
It was hard, but Bob kept his mouth shut the entire weekend.
* * * *
Monday morning, Bob was at the animal room at nine sharp, and the doc
took him to his office in the back. "Everything is set, but I have some
permission forms you'll need to sign." He sat a large stack of forms in
front of Bob.
"Doc, I can't read too good, you know, so maybe y'all could just tell me what's in them papers."
Reyes hesitated. "Can you write?"
"Lord yes, doc! I can sign my name!"
"That's good, Bob. All these papers say is you're doing this because you want to do it, and no one is forcing you."
"Sure doc. That's the truth."
Reyes went through the forms and had Bob sign in about twenty places.
"OK, Bob, let's get started, shall we?" He took Bob out to the animal
room and sat him in front of a TV set. "Bob, there are going to be
pictures and words on this screen. You can make them go faster or
slower by turning this knob. I'll be coming over once in a while to
give you a shot. It's important for you to watch the screen and to let
the screen change as fast as you can when you understand what's there.
Do you understand?"
Bob smiled broadly. "Yeah, doc. Make the pictures and stuff go as fast
I can while I look at them." He frowned for a moment. "Doc, will the
Reyes smiled at him. "I'll do my best so they won't hurt."
Reyes gave Bob a shot and it didn't hurt at all. The stuff on the
screen was easy, even for Bob. They were just pictures, like an apple,
with the name of the thing underneath the picture. Bob turned up the
speed a little. More and more pictures and words kept coming at him,
and he thought this was a lot like the flash cards his first grade
teacher, Mrs. Herman, had used. After about thirty minutes of this, the
doc came and gave him another shot.
Bob saw the stuff on the TV was getting harder, like when he was in
second grade, but he was still able to get it pretty fast because he
already knew this stuff, so he kept turning the knob. Soon, Bob saw
stuff he remembered from third grade, what little he was there, but it
was still like he knew it.
Dr. Reyes came with another shot and Bob saw things he knew he'd never
seen before, but it flashed past on the screen like he was already
familiar with the material. He turned up the speed. Soon, there was
information being presented to Bob he'd seen in some of the books the
high school students who worked for Dave's service station carried from
class. Dr. Reyes gave him another injection, and Bob turned up the
Bob saw entire pages of text about advanced mathematics and other
sciences in well less than a second. He absorbed the material like he
himself had written the book. The data came from the monitor at faster
and faster rates, and Bob still felt like he waited an eternity between
pages. He increased the speed still more.
After the last injection, most of the information he saw concerned
philosophy, about the complex relationship between man and God, if such
an entity existed. Bob felt engrossed by the myriad and convoluted
structure of the universe and man's place within the labyrinth when,
suddenly, the monitor went blank.
Bob stared at the monitor for a few moments and Dr. Reyes came up beside him. "How are you feeling?"
"I feel fine, but there seems to be something wrong with the computer."
Reyes laughed a little. "No, Bob, the computer is just fine. You've
simply reached the end of the knowledge we have available here in this
Bob frowned. "So what is next, doctor?"
"Just one more injection, Bob."
Reyes gave Bob the injection in his arm and it burned terribly. It hurt
so badly that Bob fell from the chair to the floor and he writhed in
pain. He could hear the screams of the monkeys even above his own
agony. Bob's body twisted and turned.
The pain subsided, and he managed to open his eyes. A thick furry blur
above his eyes was his protruding brow. Furry hands responded to Bob's
attempt to touch his face. Bob saw he was a monkey.
Reyes picked him up and put him in a cage next to the monkey who had
spoken to him. Reyes slipped on his coat to leave the laboratory. "You
see Bob, the best way to have a smart animal is to make your own." He
turned off the lights and locked the door.
The monkey in the next cage twittered. "So, how you doing, Bob?"
"You bastard! You knew this would happen! Why did you do this to me!"
"Jesus you're dumb, Bob."
"I am not stupid!"
The monkey smiled, as much as his face would allow. "Yeah, you're dumb, and I'm Tommy Hill."